Jumat, 31 Maret 2017

Aki Home Furniture

Aki Home Furniture

we now face an existential crisis that maybring human civilisation to an end. this needs a whole of society effort to try and resolve it. our current system is a planet-killing ponzischeme. it’s a giant casino of absolutely epic proportions. the consumer way very easily debauches. i think we are losing a sense of communityin many ways. we need to learn about these fundamentals ofa deeper connection to one another and to nature. maybe there’s another option, maybe there’sanother way - way to live which isn’t the

way that i have grown up with or become accustomedto or just fallen into. the story of industrial civilisation tellsus that limitless economic growth, advanced technology, and material affluence are thepathways to prosperity. but as we reflect on the world today, it is clear that thisis failing both people and planet. we know this in our heads and feel it in our hearts. and yet, it seems we have not found a newstory by which to live. we are the generation in between stories, desperately clinging toyesterday’s, but uncertain of tomorrow’s. but then again, perhaps the new story is alreadywith us. perhaps we just need to live it into existence.

i came because i was looking for a way tosimplify my life. i knew that the way that i was living my life wasn’t right and thethings that seemed – that it seemed necessary to strive for weren’t the things that ireally wanted to strive for. and i’ve always felt that. [beautiful windows.] so i guessfor the last five or six years i’ve sort of been paring back. i just, yeah, i felti didn’t want to have debt, i didn’t want to… didn’t want to feel obligated to worka 40-hour week and not have time to do the things that really mattered to me. so, for the past year or so i’ve been experimentingwith, i guess, living simply, living sustainably, and trying to challenge myself, i guess, tolive in a way that is less ah harmful towards

the planet and, ah, less energy intensive.i guess i feel like this experiment is an opportunity to push myself a little bit furtherand challenge not only myself but the modern environmental movement to, yeah, come to understandwhat it is to live sustainably. i’m really looking forward to this year,being part of a team working together to explore, ah, what it really means to live simply andsustainably, to work towards living within the resources of one planet. how we can justimprove constantly. and i’m really excited about sharing that beyond the group here andbeyond this place as much as we can to inspire and educate others as well. the idea of this project really interestedme because i’d been trying to apply these

principles in my own life in quite an individualway, hadn’t had much support from the wider group of people i was with, so the idea ofcoming here to be in a supportive learning environment and to be meeting lots of newpeople who are asking similar questions, challenging things in a similar way, that’s what excitedme, that idea of working as part of a larger movement. ah, i guess my interest in this project wasto join with like-minded people, learn some skills, give my daughter the opportunity ofliving, living on a rural property. being part of a documentary to…to educate andinspire others to one planet living, sustainable living.

um, so i was interested in this project becauseit provided me with the ability to put the theories of natural building and natural foodproduction into practice on a bigger scale than i’m able to do in cities and withoutactually buying any land, because land’s so expensive at the moment. i’ve been studying permaculture for a longtime, but i’m excited to put it into practice. i want to have experiences and i wanna beable to use my hands, and have knowledge from experience rather than from books. in terms of the existing infrastructure, inaddition to the house there, there’s a small earth ship, a cob round house, some basiccomposting facilities, and a moderately sized

farm shed, if you like. my mother loved thisplace. so much so that my sister and i spread her ashes here, once she passed away. sheis very much the seed for us, in being able to explore sustainable pathways for the property.it was not long after this that i was introduced to samuel alexander’s book entropia, andrealised that we were truly on the same page, envisaging a simpler way. i shared all thiswith the gunai kernai land and waters aboriginal corporation’s cultural heritage managerabout our small braiakolung patch, and wurruk’an was born. with permission to use “wurruk”,a local indigenous word for earth and story, fused with “k’an”, a mayan term forseed. we are beginning the build of a tiny house.it’s about 2.7 by 3.6, and about 3 metres

high, so it’s got a footprint of about 10square metres. we’re trying to use as much reclaimed timber and reclaimed iron as possible.for the last two or three months i’ve been jumping into skips on the side of the roador jumping into people’s back yards when they tell me that they’re renovating, orgoing to the tip shops or salvage yards or finding windows on the side of the road. we’vegot about 15 people here for the build over the next week and at the end of that buildi’m hoping that we’ve more or less got ourselves a beautiful, unconventional, tinyhouse. this is the tiny house that was built by agroup of people in, when was it, it was january, as well, so it took about a week, and theni had to install some of the ceiling and a

few other bits and pieces myself, but it gotfinished in a week. so this is the outside of the tiny house. it’s made out of prettymuch nearly all recycled materials, building materials, it’s probably about, i wouldsay about 95% all recycled building materials. these weather boards are actually skirtingboards that we sanded down and varnished. so i guess that the main feature of the tinyhouse is the geodesic window, which our carpenter nick made. it’s beautiful. he actually madethe frame and i cut all the glass and did the patterns. first time cutting glass and,what do you know it worked! and then i made a candle-holder for it and everything. thismakes it a really warm and beautiful space to be in and i look forward to many winternights with candles. then we’ve got, like

most tiny houses we’ve got a loft for eitherstorage or a bed. that’s my bed up there. it’s got a really cute little window. youcan fit quite a lot of things into a tiny house and to be honest it’s quite comfortable.i’ve got my couch, my bed, i’ve got a work station as well. this is my little desk,where i end up doing designs from, which is a really beautiful place to work. i oftenwork with the door open, i’ve got a view down into the valley there. i often work witha kerosene lamp, candles, sometimes a head torch if it’s getting a little bit too dark.there’s no power in the house and that’s what i like about it. i like to kind of goback to nature and it really gives you a feeling of the fluctuations of the seasons and thecycles of nature as well. i prefer to live

in a tiny space. i like to nest, and i don’tthink that you miss out on much … much more than living in a conventional house, in aquite a larger house, and that’s because it makes you minimise, it makes you realisehow much you don’t need, as well. it makes you realise how functional a small space canbe. in our modern society we have the, usually the feeling that bigger is better, and i don’tnecessarily think that that’s the case. i think that smaller is more cosy and morenourishing. i grew up in quite a conventional way, ina little family in sort of suburban england, but my family had a really strong connectionto the natural world. we’d often go for walks in the forest and along moors and ihad a deep love of nature from a young age.

and when i was a teenager i, through videoson the internet and through publications, discovered the extent of the ecological andsocial crises happening in the world today – the deforestation, the pollution in theoceans, the toxic dumps, the factory farming. that really hit me very hard and i becamereally concerned about how we were living. i had a deep sense that we shouldn’t begoing down that track but at the time i had no idea that there was an alternative. you can’t produce an answer unless you namethe problem accurately. unless we really understand the circumstances we’re in, we’re notgonna get the solutions to find the path to it and i’ve seen what i call, after barbaraehrenreich, a lot of bright siding. aah…

it’s all happy-clappy, it’s all good,we’re all going in the right direction, there’s renewable energy, sunflowers, allof this. i think, in part, some of that is a personal psychological response of peoplewanting to talk about the good news because it allows them to go on. but we have to dealwith this problem as it really is, and it is arresting and it is difficult. and to pretendotherwise, to pretend it’s going to be light and easy, that it’s going to be businessas usual, that everybody can keep on making profit and we won’t have to change much,to think like that, actually means that we can’t get to the solution we need. we needbrutal reality in order to solve the problem. techno-optimism in particular is, is reallyinsidious, it’s about telling us we don’t

actually have to change anything, we can stillhave everything we have now. so we don’t have to worry about any of these pesky limits,we’ll have everything we have now we’ll just do it all in a green sort of way. … ithink we have to have a recognition of the fact that we are facing limits, and some senseof the relative timeframe for the different limits that we’re facing, because then weknow what we’re trying to prepare for, and we have an appropriate kind of sense of urgencyas to the need to do it. i hope that by the end of the year i’llhave a deeper grounding in what it means to live simply, and a greater confidence thatthis is in fact a way of approaching life that is deeply nourishing. i believe it isand the experiences i’ve had so far tell

me that it’s something that could be appliedto lots of peoples’ lives for great benefit, but i think the explorations of this yearwill help give me confidence in communicating that message and sharing it with a wide rangeof people. i hope that by the end of the year these practical explorations will give megreater clarity of my own realities and vision and how i see my life being a beautiful contributionto these difficult times that we’re in as a species. i want my life to be a gesturetowards a more stable and loving world. i guess i’m expecting this year to be difficult.i’m expecting to, yeah, again push simple living to its probably more extreme ends andtry and, i mean i know it’s gonna be uncomfortable but i wanna try and find what my limits areand try and pare it back to something that’s

somewhere in between and more comfortable.and i guess i’ve been doing that by myself for a little while now and i’m hoping todo that with a bunch of other people that are interested in the same kind of thing andmaybe we can work together and as a community it might be more rewarding or more enjoyableor even a bit easier. and yeah i mean if you can extend that to community living, i guessit’ll be easier to extend to much broader society. [oh ok, no it’s not matching up anymore.]i spent the last eight years working in an office, as a town planner, in a number ofdifferent roles, doing different things and in the end of those eight years i was actuallypartaking in projects that i was very passionate

about, but the bulk of my work that was comingfrom up above, my bosses, was not something i was proud or really fully passionate about.so quitting my job and doing a bit of travelling and then applying to be a part of this projectgave me the ability to remove myself from the daily grind, i guess you could say, andyou know i found that once i you know built my salary up over those eight years workingfrom part time to a full time, senior employee in a local government, i started spendingthat money on luxuries, and since i’ve quit my job it’s been nice to just strip allthose things back and try and live more simply with far less. so over the year i’m hopingthat i’ll be able to construct some form of abode on wheels for very little money,as i don’t have much, using recycled materials

as much as i can. i’ve always had sort of minor health issuesand in my mid-30s they’d developed to a point where it was necessary for me to reallydo something … to really take responsibility for my health, because i wasn’t findingthe medical profession helpful and i wasn’t finding anything else that was helping me,and so i started taking responsibility for my health. and as i understood more aboutthe way my body works, and the importance of the food that i put in it, and that foodis medicine, and the importance of knowing where your food comes from, and connectingwith your food, the more interested i became in soil, and in gardening, which i had neverreally… i mean i’d always been a city

girl, i never really knew how a strawberrygrew… wouldn’t have recognised half the plants on my plate if i’d seen them in agarden. so those understandings led me to leave a desk job that i loved but which irealised wasn’t healthy for me, it wasn’t good for me to sit at a desk for five daysa week all day, every day, it wasn’t good for me mentally, or physically, or spiritually. ok, so this is the cob cabin. it was builtin a workshop about a year and half before the project started. it’s… the walls are30cm thick cob, which is sand, clay and straw and water, and the floor is also cob. there’snot a lot to show in the cob cabin because i didn’t come with a lot of things, so ihaven’t got much in here, which i’m really

loving. i gave away or sold most of my thingsbefore i came to australia for this project, which was a really liberating experience.so obviously in the process of being here i’ve accumulated things, because that’swhat we do. one thing i’ve done is make a bed from pallets. there were some rocksleft over from the build and some planks lying around so i made some shelves from rocks andplanks. i’ve got a little plastic solar powered light, which doesn’t put out muchlight, but that’s so … i don’t have any other form of power in the cabin. i’mnot going to have any heating for winter. the walls being 30cm-thick cob, it’s reallywell insulated so it’s really cool in summer and so far it’s been really warm on colddays, but obviously we’re not in the heart

of winter yet so i don’t know how it’sgonna be. we need a certain level of material possessionsto be satisfied but beyond that point, which is surprisingly low, it’s actually lessabout what we have and more about the way we live and the way we treat others and theway we feel ourselves to be in relationship with the wider world, and lots of beautifulwriters spoke very clearly about how people can find more satisfaction in a less consumptiveway, which at the same time makes us happier in the west and it also reduces the load thatwe’re putting on other people around the world who don’t have access to the wealththat we’re taking from them. so voluntary simplicity for me is a very elegant way toboth increase personal satisfaction and sense

of meaning and richness. there’s now a mountain of literature thatis overwhelmingly convincing that not only are there savage limits to growth but we’vegone through many of them, in the sense that it is now utterly impossible for all peopleto live at anything like the standard of consumption or environmental impact that we have in richcountries. and yet the mainstream has virtually ignored that case. the economy at the moment,despite all those brilliant tech-fix things – like the computerisation of everything– the resource use rates are going up at a fiercer rate. so if technical advance, technicalfix, is going to solve our problems, well i want to know is when’s it going to start?

it often seems to me that these debates aboutour environment, our future and our, you know, environmental future come down to almost ablind faith in technology. and i should say that by background i’m a technologist, icome from applied physics background, so, you know, i like what technology does forus. but, we have to be really careful about putting so much faith in this factor. well, essentially all human political systemsexist to extract wealth from the periphery and concentrate it at the centre. it’s justthat some of them do it a lot more effectively or efficiently than others. capitalism doesit extremely effectively. so it’s a very effective mechanism for sucking wealth towardsthe centre. what you do is you create a ponzi

scheme, essentially, you’re sucking everythingin, but you constantly require a larger and larger periphery to suck it into in orderto keep expanding the capacity of the centre. and if you can’t keep expanding, it willcollapse, like any ponzi scheme, so you have to keep reaching out further and further. i don’t necessarily think it’s certainthat we’re in for collapse or that it’s happening now. i think trying to make sucha call, a certainty call on this is, would be extremely brave. but i just think the evidencedoes appear to be assembling and stacking up for… that it’s likely that we may evenbe in the early stages of a collapse mode right now. it just makes sense to me to startto prepare and i suppose that that to me means

expect… being more self-reliant. we’re using organic gardening practices.so we’re not using any pesticides, we’re not using any fungicides, we’re not usingany chemical fertilisers, anything like that. it’s mainly about trying to build soil inwhatever we can, mostly with compost and mostly with manures. food is more than just fuel for the body,it’s… it’s your connection to the land. it’s the most, food is the most intimateconnection to the land because you interact with four of the five senses, you know thetaste and the texture and the smell and the sight, so it’s quite an amazing thing…to be able to enjoy good food, fresh food,

seasonal food, real food, food that doesn’tcome out of a can or a package and you mix water with it or… i don’t understand thosetypes of food. the giant middlemen in the form of huge multinationalcorporations and supermarket chains, are not able to treat farmers in a way that respectsthe absolute reality and necessity of diversity. these farmers are being pressured to growstandard-sized apples without a single blemish, they have to fit the machinery – that isthe harvesting machinery, the washing machinery, the supermarket shelf and the packaging. theend result is we burn tonnes of food every year, the end result is that the very researchand development at university is now concerned about transportability and the looks of productsnot the nutritional value.

we don’t know now when our food naturallygrows. you know, we get watermelons in june, in victoria, watermelons don’t grow in junein victoria, you know. and i think that that’s really disconnecting. when you wait for somethingto grow in your garden, it’s a completely different feeling because you’ve anticipatedit, you’ve cared for it, it not only tastes delicious but you’ve got this kind of connectionwith it that makes it taste even more delicious – and the fact that you’ve waited forit all season… so we get some of our food from the garden,but during the winter we haven’t had as much coming in from the garden, so get somevegetables from the baw baw food hub, so we’ve been getting sacks of potatoes and sacks ofcarrots and sacks of onions from them, as

well as garlic in bulk and things like butterand cheese. they also do veggie boxes, with a range of different vegetables from the localarea, so we’ve been getting them as we’ve progressed through the year. aside from thatwe get our dry goods and other food from a variety of different places. so, we’re aimingto source our food as locally, ethically and organically as possible, so we choose whichsupplier we get different items from so that we’re getting it from as close as possibleand grown in the best way possible for the environment. because to me food consumption is a moralact. it is also a political act. and it is up to us, the consumer – or i like to callourselves the citizens, not just consumer

– to do something about it. because we can’tall wait for authorities or government to do something about it, we just have to dothings. it has to be from the bottom up. my name’s hayden and i build super adobedomes, and i run workshops and i hope to do it full time and as a real job. it’s 3.6min diameter because that falls under the 10sq metre floor space that it needs to be classifiedas a ‘shed’, so we don’t actually need a permit for it. about 95% of the buildingmaterial is earth. we’ve got a really really large pile of earth that we’ve just pulledfrom the site here, so hopefully if your soil is the right consistency you get to use areally really large percentage of soil that’s on your site. so it’s really really localmaterials, really really cheap, and yeah really

really easy to build with. yeah, this is our composting toilet setup,which we built over the course of a few weeks out of a combination of salvaged hardwood,local cypress, which makes these, and, yeah, just some other materials that we found aroundthe place, some hessian sacks from down the road. it’s a pretty simple system. there’sa urinal over on this side here, and a composting toilet on this side. after we’ve finishedusing it we put in a cup of sawdust, just here, from the local cypress mill, and thatjust helps it to… it balances the carbon and the nitrogen and it helps it to compostinto a fertiliser. so when we’re done with the bin, when it’sfilled up most of the way, we’ll take it

out and put it in a holding bay with all ourother bins and they’ll sit for about 300 days, and we’ll check on the compost afterthat time. and during that time they’ll just compost away until eventually they’re,yeah, beautiful fertiliser for the garden. we’ve used permaculture in the gardens,where we’re trying to maximise diversity and make sure that there’s a lot of differentkinds of plants around. we’re planting herbs and things like that, as well, for integratedpest management. permaculture can be defined in many different ways but it basically, itstands for permanent agriculture first of all, and then permanent culture, ok, so theway i see it is basically it’s planning and designing for more permanent kind of systems.just like nature does, really, it’s mimicking

nature. so, it’s utilising design and carefulresearch and planning to ensure that you’re creating a self-cycling system that’s regenerativeand produces no waste. so permaculture is really a design systemfor both sustainable land use and sustainable living. and so it’s addressing both theproduction side of the conundrum and the consumption side, and saying why not bring those thingsback together? well we eat food… we grow a garden, why don’t we grow the food inthe garden and integrate that whole…? rather than the industrial system, which stretcheseverything out in these long supply chains. so bring it back together. and through thata whole lot of design principals emerged, that, you know, small-scale systems actuallymade more sense than large scale ones, that

you need a diversity rather than a monoculture. and it’s not just sustainable, sustainableis not nearly good enough…what you need is not sustainable, you need regenerative,and that’s exactly what permaculture provides you the ability to do. rather than our extractivesystem, where we’ve constantly been sucking resources out all the time, and cannibalising,catabalising our natural capital, all the time, rather than doing that and leaving ourselvesless and less and less ability to produce and meet our needs in the future, if you institutea permaculture system, you’re actually rebuilding that natural capital. sustainability’s a funny one. yeah, i feellike it’s a bit of a buzz word at the moment.

sustaining. yeah. i don’t know what it isthat you’re trying to sustain anyway, i mean, yeah, when you think about sustainabilityit means i guess that you can continue doing what you’re doing ongoing into the future,indefinitely. but i just don’t really think that there’s that much that we should betrying to sustain at the moment. we should be looking at solutions that can improve theland over the long term, and can improve the lives of people. but i don’t think the rampantinequality and the extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of the few is somethingworth sustaining. i think that’s something worth destroying and challenging and replacing. you’re really answering what is a deep humanneed, because that’s how we evolved. it’s

coming back onto a track that would allowlife to continue evolving, that would allow for real progress. the other path is suicidal,we are going to soon get to the point where ‘localise or die’ basically, because wecannot continue extinguishing species, cannot continue creating frustration, fundamentalism,terror. we cannot continue so blatantly destroying any form of democracy. you know, things aregoing to change and i think we’ll see, you know, that people are waking up very, veryrapidly to the benefits of localisation. ah, this week we're retrofitting our existingfarm shed to be a kitchen, lounge and craft space. we want a multi-functional large areathat can be converted to different uses with portable bits of furniture, so with the materialswe're using, we've sourced locally milled

timber from a local sawmill, and we’re alsousing as many recycled materials as possible. so we've got a bunch of floorboards and bitsof iron that we're going to use as cladding for the internal space. we’re also goingto be doing a recycled bottle wall along the front of the building here, to let as muchlight in as possible and that’s also going to feature some large glass doors to bringthe outside in and feature that beautiful view we've got of the property. there's so much waste these days, of buildingsthat are getting torn down or scraps of wood that are left over from building jobs, thatwe can divert those resources from landfill and actually use them in a meaningful wayand be really creative with just making something

out of nothing. we’re here at the wurruk’an kitchen/loungeroom/communal space, which we’ve been living in now for about three or so months. i guessthe theme starts with our recycled timber. these ones up the top and on the side hereare oak floorboards that were left over from a building project and we were able to getthem very cheap. we’ve got some recycled windows that there are a couple of sets aroundthe room. so over here you can see we’ve used a combination of corrugated iron andsome hardwood fence palings that we were able to get for free from demolition. we also scoredsome of this splashback stuff around the sink and the oven, which is heat proof, and thatwas left over commercially and we were able

to get it for free. these beautiful benchtops, both these ones and the larger slabs, came from a sawmill, from jedwood. we werevery luck to get their off-cuts and be able to actually use them with the help of ourprofessional carpenter to get them to this stage, which is really nice. up on the roofwe’ve actually had to use some ply wood. we were a bit short on materials to do thewhole thing with reclaimed stuff. and there’s also insulation and framing behind all ofthese walls and the ceiling now so that insulation was also you know a bit of a compromise. webought that new as well cos that can be pretty hard to find secondhand. it’s been really great to have a wood-firedstove to cook on. it feels a lot better than

cooking on an electric stove as we were before.just knowing that the source of energy that we’re using to cook with is a renewablesource is better. at the moment we’ve used some off-cuts from building, which have noother purpose, and we’ve also sourced some of our firewood from this property and alsofrom nearby forests in the way that is permitted. so, it’s clear enough now that we need totransition swiftly away from a fossil fuel energy economy to an economy based on renewableenergy. not only due to climate change, but also because in coming years or decades fossilenergy production will inevitably peak and decline. but we can’t just green the supplyof our energy, we also need to, i think, significantly reduce energy demand, because there’s noway that we can run a globalised energy-intensive

consumer society purely on renewable energy.yes, we need to transition to 100% renewable energy, but that implies significantly reducingenergy demand, and it would be far easier, obviously, to meet 100% renewable energy ifwe consumed much less energy. so that should be our goal. but given the close connectionbetween energy and economy, a society based solely on renewable energy would have reducedenergy supply, and therefore would probably have to go through a phase of economic contraction,at least in the developed regions of the world. so i think if we were successful in transitioningto 100% renewable energy we wouldn’t be able to live high-consumption, energy-intensivelifestyles. we would need to aim for far more humble but sufficient living standards.

the silver lining to consuming less is actuallyconsuming more of what we really want and what we really long for. and that includes,you know, hand-made, artisan products that, you know, most people treasure much more thansome mass-produced product. it includes more time to breathe and to sing together, to dancetogether, to make things together. there’s a whole universe of things out there thatwe could do right now without money, but it requires the insight and the courage to connectto others, and to form groups where we can change the ‘i’ to a ‘we’. you don’t need that much in the way of materialthings if you know that your neighbours have got your back, and anytime you get overwhelmedby things, you can go next door and there’s

someone who’s shoulder you can cry on, orthey can come to you, or someone who’s tomatoes you can water, then they’re coming and helpingyou fix your bike, or whatever it might be. there are just so many advantages, there areno disadvantages to building community, and the potential advantages are absolutely massive,so i think that’s something we really, really need to focus on. i think the benefits of living in a communityreveal themselves to you more and more each day. there’s the strict financial benefitof being able to share in the costs of making this transition. and also the benefits ofbeing able to draw on each other’s skills and attributes and knowledges so you don’thave to do it alone, you don’t have to do

it financially alone, skills alone, some ofthose things are very intimidating for people trying to make that step. but more than thatit’s about being… doing it together. and what’s possible here is possible not justbecause of us as individuals but because when we get this unique collection of individualstogether we’re capable of so much more than what we would be on our own. so we have to do one of two things: we eitherjust accept that we have no community at all, we just have a casual neighbourhood and somenice acquaintances at work and perhaps a couple of people that we drink with at the pub, orwe create community, intentional community. and i think that’s the side that’s alwaysinterested me personally as well as in my

research, is how can people create intentional…how can you consciously do it? i know people subconsciously do it all the time. i meanit’s our natural position, but can you actually do this, can you set out to create this? andthat always fascinates me. you gonna have to come up with some idea of how you’regonna make decisions. yes, we’re going to have consensus, and yes we’re going to livelightly on the land, and yes we’re going to support each other and yes we’ll lookafter each other’s children and elderly and all of that sort of stuff. but it dependswhether you have any experience with doing that. i think the other thing is that we arelosing so many of those skills from living in community. it’s like, you know, i knowthat i have to develop skills in organic gardening

if i’m going to become an organic gardener,i know that, so therefore i also have to develop skills in inter-human, interpersonal relationshipsif i’m gonna live in community. don’t assume you were kind of born with that becauseyou weren’t. you have to learn how to cooperate, how to put the group above the individualand that’s very challenging. there’s been a lot of challenges, i’mnot gonna lie. i think although we had to live the first few months without much infrastructure,without a warm kitchen space, without much of a lounge room or without a whole lot ofrunning water and we had a composting toilet that was sort of outside, i don’t thinkthe infrastructure were all that big, i think there seemed to be a sense in solidarity inall doing it together and that kind of gave

me a lot of comfort, knowing that we wereall kind of pulling through and stronger because of it. so i feel like the infrastructure challengeswere a little bit problematic but they weren’t as hard i think as the community challengeswe faced, when there was conflict in the community and our conflict resolution around that weren’tfully developed so yeah, i think i struggled a lot when things were not going well andpeople left and things weren’t fully resolved, or when there was substantial difference inthe direction that people wanted to take in the project, whether people wanted to buildlots of infrastructure or start practicing simple, simpler living. i feel like thosechasms, those sort of divides were challenging for me because i didn’t know where i satand didn’t know how to bring the group back

together again. i wanted everyone to startworking together again. obviously starting at a community from scratchwith people who don’t really know each other at all and designing a property and finishingbuildings, houses and bits of infrastructure is very challenging in the context of one-yearproject, so, yeah, that social aspect of just getting to know each other and getting decision-makingprocesses in place has been one of the key challenges. another major challenge i thinkhas been the group figuring out how to accommodate a wide range of peoples’ styles of voluntarysimplicity. it can be interpreted to differing degrees and there’s not necessarily anyright or wrong answers, so just figuring out how the group can accommodate the varietywithin our personal direction and preferences

has also been a challenging component of thatsocial side of things. one of the humbling learnings i got from beinghere was how difficult it is to be in community and how in a way we have to relearn that art– that we have broken that long tradition of shared ritual and song and mythology andliving in one place and knowing that history. that’s kind of been fragmented for us andwhen we now come together in groups it’s much harder to find that common culture todraw upon in times of discord and in times of confusion. so it’s easy for us to fragmentback into our individual desires and paths and i know that for lots of people, as resourcesbecome more scarce and we have to rely on each other more, there’ll be positives tothat but there’ll also be lots of challenges.

so i’m very motivated now to keep practisingand developing those skills of communication and conflict resolution, naming the difficulties,bringing up the emotional challenges. and also celebrating together, creating, relaxing,learning how to play and dance in a group and, it’s a real, it’s the art of beinghuman and the art of being together. we’ve been living in a tent, or we wereliving in a tent at the start of the year, and yeah the tent was in a place where itdidn’t get a whole lot of sun and as it began to rain a bit more as we were cominginto winter it didn’t dry out so it started to get mouldy and, yeah, there was a bit ofpressure on us to do something else and we decided that building a small house with recycledmaterials would be the simplest way to do

that so, yeah, so we did. this beautiful structure behind us is thehouse that we built over the course of about three months out of pretty much entirely recycledmaterials. we had to make five purchases. we bought some cement for the foundations,some steel bracing tape, because it was a bit wonky, we bought some screws for the roof,we bought some… [a tub of wood glue]… a little tub of wood glue for, to make somewindow frames…we bought chains to hold the windows open. [hinges] oh and we bought, therewere six things, we bought some hinges as well. but that’s it; everything else isrecycled materials we got entirely for free. yeah, we went by dumpsters from demolitionsites, we looked on the website gumtree and,

yeah, we ended up getting, yeah, pretty mucheverything we needed to build a whole house just for free. if, yeah, we can demonstratethat it’s possible to do without three and a half years of training and without tensof thousands of dollars, to build a house that is gonna be a lot better in terms ofits ecological footprint, then i think that that can kind of disperse that knowledge moreamongst the people that might not have the money to take part in a more conventionalsustainability movement. yeah, so the total cost was about $420 if you, include, yeah,the petrol money that went into it. it’s a lot more time consuming doing it for free,but yeah, it’s definitely worth it. [a lot more rewarding, i think]. yeah.

so while i’ve been at wurruk’an i’vebeen continuing to work for eight hours a week for book publishing clients and that’senabled me to cover the small expenses that we have at wurruk’an. so we’ve put $30a week into the kitty, which is, you know, the great benefit of living in a community,that for $30 a week each we’ve been able to pretty much feed ourselves for the entireyear. and obviously all of us have little extras that we like, that weren’t itemsthat everybody wanted, and so we’ve bought our own, i don’t know, cheese, or bread.i think i’m right in saying that we’ve all spent under $100 a week this year forour basic living costs. [the borrower receives the full amount andpays it back, plus interest. either way the

interest that it collects on loans is oneof the bank’s principle sources of income. now mr moreton has obtained his loan. he hasincreased his bank credit by nearly $2000. but this credit was not transferred to himfrom some other account, so where did it come from?] so currently the existing monetary systemessentially has a growth imperative built into its structures, because banks createmoney by loaning it into existence as interest-bearing debt, and in order for that debt to be paidback, plus the interest, that implies an expansion of the monetary system. so it needs growthfor stability. but we also know that growth is the driving force behind our environmentalproblems, so if we were to transition to a

post-growth economy, as we need to do forenvironmental reasons, this would require us to create a different type of monetarysystem and banking system, one that wasn’t so dependent on growth. and i think there’sa huge amount that governments can do to reign in the worst aspects of the current system,but perhaps a more promising line of opposition, given that governments don’t seem to bedoing much, would be for individuals and households to try to create new forms of economy. tryto escape the existing monetary system as far as possible. and they could do this throughthings like creating local currencies, local exchange networks and engaging in practiceslike barter, and gift, and sharing. it would be … it’s obviously so much easier fora community to deal with the contracting economy

if communities and households shared the stuffthat they had. so there was a long process of… what feltlike a long process of learning to communicate with each other and it’s immensely satisfyingnow to feel that that process has actually been really successful. and to be living nowin a… with a community of people who when problems arise know how to work through them.and i think we’ve actually been really successful at making those… at developing those communicationskills, and it’s a nice feeling when, you know, when we have a meeting and someone raisesan issue and you can see the change in… you can see the different way that peopleapproach it, you can see the different ways that people sort of think about, respond toissues, especially if, where at the beginning

of the year they might have felt a littlebit attacked now they think through the reason for the issue coming up. yeah i think we’reall much better at, i think we’re probably all in some way more mature community dwellers. living in such close quarters with other peopleas part of a community, especially on quite a small scale where we all use the same loungeroom and kitchen and there’s you know seven or eight of us in that same space on a dailybasis, it certainly presents a lot of challenges on a personal and a group level, that arejust inherent to human beings and you know families and communities and all types ofhuman relationships. so it’s certainly been challenging but i know for myself that’smade me look inward and examine my own personal

journey and where i’m at and how my ownpsychology is evolving and just you know, if you feel a bit down one day or feel a bitanxious about how someone else is acting, it’s ended up kind of flipping around andmaking me examine how i’m contributing to those sorts of dynamics or social situationsand just, yeah, trying to learn more about myself i guess. so i’m gonna be building my house in lessthan a week now. i’ve got fourteen people coming out to learn how to build a tiny houseon wheels, and i’ve been gathering materials for the last couple of months in melbourneand around the local area to build a tiny house on wheels out of recycled materials.you know, we’ve got a few rough plans but

being a tiny house it’s quite easy to gowith the flow and being recycled materials we’ve had to adapt to that and it’s gonnabe a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, i guess. so there’s a major, major benefit if youdon’t get trapped into working 20, 30, 40 years to pay the mortgage on your two bigmcmansions, boy oh boy have you gained a lot of time and freedom from worry to do otherthings. and in a sane world we would be able to build a very nice little house for, i reckon,$10,000 at most, and you can do it for less than that if you like, and that’s a perfectlyadequate house. now, you’ve saved $400,000 there, by the time you take in the paymentof interest and the loans to the bank and tax on the money. that’s not negligible;there is a benefit for moving to simpler ways.

so we’re three days into the workshop andit’s going really well. as you can see we’ve got the full timber frame of the walls upand the group’s working really well together. they’re all learning off each other andnick, our carpenter, is doing a really great job, so i feel very lucky to have everyoneworking so hard and we’re on schedule. i was really humbled by the good will, theenergy, and all of the contributions brought by everyone who made it possible. it was justan amazing week of everyone’s energy vibing and making this beautiful house possible,and, you know, i’ve got a little bit left to do but i’ve basically had people comeand build me a house with really great intentions and we all learnt a whole lot. and it couldn’thave gone any better. i’d say it was probably

the best week of my life without a doubt. there’s a whole history of these sort ofenergy descent ideas and permaculture being associated with a move to the country, a moveto rural areas as a place that’s a better place to be more self-reliant. and that stillmay be true, but for most people there’s both a necessity and an advantage in lookingat where they live already. and for most australians that is some sort of detached housing in whatwe call suburbia, whether that’s in our capital cities or whether it’s in similarhousing in our regional towns and even villages like the one we live in – that most peopleare living in those separate houses on small blocks. and what that template of living makespossible is it’s possible to incrementally

adjust what is happening there and providea lot of people’s needs by growing food, by modifying the house to make it more…ah, less dependent on energy, by harvesting some of the water, and by using some of thespace that exists in our relatively large houses to start doing more in the householdeconomy. doing things for ourselves, rather than depending on money. one of the things that’s most exciting aboutthe intentional communities movement now is that it’s like we have right across thelandscape hundreds of experiments about how to live in a way that confronts and resolvesissues associated with climate change and peak oil, you know, environmental damage ona global scale. instead of just having a one-way

solution, which just says this is the waythat we have to go forward to resolve this, instead we’ve got all of these little bubblesof creative responses and you know new ways of living and being together and, buildinglives together. patterns of settlement and patterns of production are popping up allacross the landscape, each offering different pathways, and it’s almost like the… asmore of these emerge we have more opportunities for resilience. ideally i’d like to see more initiativeslike this, where people with resources and land and spaces, making them available toallow, you know, passionate and enthusiastic people to live more self-sufficiently anddemonstrate through example that there are

other ways of doing things. so there’s so much that we can do rightnow, without spending any money, to greatly enrich our lives. and let’s not be fooledby this idea that we have so much choice in the modern economy and that our lives wouldbe so limited if we were to choose a different path. we have not even begun to explore thepotential for more diversified, localised ways of doing things. there are reasons for pessimism, because it’sa big, big task, and we’re in a lot of bother, and we are not very far down the path to thekind of consciousness that we need. but there are a lot of strong reasons for optimism.one is, that the vision of an alternative

way is, i think, so attractive, it’s whatkeeps me going, and it’s so easily done. we could do it in weeks, if we wanted to.it’s about moving to ways that would liberate all of us. you don’t want to wait until you have absolutelyno choice. so i would say it’s a bit like we’re standing on the edge of a cliff andwe’re going over the edge, like it or not we’re going over the edge. that’s notup for debate. so what are you going to do? are you going to stand on the edge of thatcliff and wait for someone to shove you off? or are you going to put on your parachuteand jump? because, not that base-jumping is without its risks, but it’s a lot less riskythan going over the edge without a parachute!

so let’s not think of it as good guys andbad guys, and let’s not believe for a minute that the way we’ll change it is by gettingsome good guys to go into those large structures. let’s look systemically at how we can shifttowards smaller structures with more holistic knowledge, underpinnings, and that reallyis the localizing path. when you know how to live simply, the senseof freedom can be just overwhelming. there’s nothing as addictive as freedom, and there’snothing as attractive either. so, i think if we find the right way to explain our ideasto people, and explain the ideas that are fundamentally workable in the first place,then there is so much that can be achieved, there’s no need to despair.

i came to wurruk’an wanting to explore areally radical form of voluntary simplicity, because i felt a real sense of urgency aroundthe various crises that the world is facing at the moment and radical simplicity seemsto me to be the best and most logical response. after the experience this year of living incommunity, and despite all of the challenges, i feel really strongly that this is the rightway for me to live. so, yeah, my intention is to return to new zealand and find or founda community and in the long term i’m really hoping to live in a community that operatesin a gift economy. that feels like a right and responsible way to live, or thing to worktowards. the person i was at the start of the yearis vastly different to the person i am at

the end of the year. as i would hope wouldbe the case for every other year for the rest of my life. my plans for the future extendas far as i should probably pick that zucchini over there. beyond that, not many plans. buti… i’m imagining that rachel and i will probably stick around here at wurruk’anfor a little while. i’m feeling pretty settled here, it’s feeling a lot like home. i thinkthe number one thing that’s been solidified in my mind this year is that my favouritethings in the world are imagination, creativity, and teamwork. and the combination of thosethree things is, yeah, personally the recipe for living in a beautiful way in the future. i love community, i love other people, i loveliving and spending time with other people.

i don’t know whether or not living in anintentional community is part of my future. one thing that i knew coming here was that…living in community is a challenge, it involves effort, and that that effort is worth it. yeah, it’s been a really transformationalyear for me… i didn’t expect to have the opportunity to be constructing my own housethis year, so it’s been very humbling to have the generosity of all the people involvedand the land owner to allow me to do that, because it’s been quite a journey to collectthe materials and go through the process of building over an extended period of time,so that’s just been fantastic and blown my expectations out of the water. so, oncei’ve finished my house, which will be sometime

early in 2016, i plan to relocate it to melbourne,hopefully in a back yard somewhere that affords me a location where i can ride my bike andcatch public transport without having to be car reliant. but after moving it to melbourneand living there for a little while and enjoying a bit of city life, i don’t really havea plan. i’m very happy to have that feeling of freedom and liberation for the first timein my life and i’m going to make the most of that. one thing i get paralysed by is this senseof having to do it right, somehow not making mistakes. and we’ve made so many mistakesliving here, you know, there are buildings that are leaky, there are disagreements thatnever got resolved, there are contradictions

in the way we’re living, and compromisesthat we had to make. so, from one perspective, we failed, we haven’t transformed the worldor led this perfect example. and from another perspective, those very failings are our gifts,and they are the offering, and they are the learnings, because we’ve risked and we’vebeen willing to put our values on the line, and we’ve been willing to test these ideasand try and bring them into, you know, the shared reality. you know, no one holds theanswers, no one has the perfect solution, it’s gonna require a response from everyoneif we’re going to be moving towards a more wholesome and enduring way of life. and, youknow, the challenges, the failings, the mistakes, the triumphs, they’re all part of the storyof change and i just hope that other people

can feel that encouragement to make theirown beautiful mistakes along the way to… on the way to integrity.

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